Contact(s): Steve Gilbert, DNR Woodruff area fisheries supervisor, 715- 356-5211 ext. 229, Stephen.Gilbert@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov
LAND O' LAKES, Wis. -- Two public meetings, set for April 4 and 6, are being held in Vilas County to gather public input on a multi-agency plan to address declining walleye numbers in Lac Vieux Desert.
The 4,300 acre flowage, which straddles the Wisconsin-Michigan border near Land O'Lakes in northeastern Vilas County, has experienced a dramatic decline in walleye abundance and recruitment over the past decade. Steve Gilbert, Woodruff area fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said little natural reproduction has occurred in the last 10 years, leaving adult walleye densities at the lowest level since recent record keeping began in 1990.
The population of adult walleye in Lac Vieux Desert Lake averaged 2.1 fish per acre in survey work conducted through 2012. The most recent survey conducted in 2016 found only 0.54 adult fish per acre. The decline corresponds with the prolonged period of low or no walleye recruitment in this popular fishing destination.
"Historically, the lake has been able to produce young-of-year walleye through natural reproduction, but for some reason, there has been little to no recruitment of young fish starting in 2005 and continuing to the present," Gilbert said. "Working with Michigan DNR, the Lac Vieux Desert Band, Sokaogon (Mole Lake) Chippewa and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, we have developed a draft plan with a goal to restore natural reproduction and increase the density of adult walleye to at least 2.5 fish per acre."
Although the cause of the decline is not certain, the inter-agency working group intends to use available tools in a multi-faceted approach to reverse the trend. Public input will be sought to help inform the effort, Gilbert said.
Key elements of the plan include:
Gilbert said the initiative also would include public outreach, education and enforcement efforts by state and tribal officials to ensure compliance with the rehabilitation plan's walleye harvest restrictions.
The public meetings will be held Tuesday, April 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the library of the Land O'Lakes Elementary School, 6485 Town Hall Road, Land O' Lakes, Wis., 54540; and Thursday, April 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the cafeteria of Phelps High School, 4451 Old School Rd, Phelps, Wis., 54554.